Home from Home Care (HFHC) is a real family business – one that since its foundation in 2004 has demonstrated its close family values by staying true to its founding principles. As a family whose daughter/sister has a learning disability, the de Savary’s focus for HFHC is all about inclusion and meaningful access to the wider community for the most vulnerable and often socially excluded. Yet even with this focus, all of us spend significant time in our home, so it is also about a home life that is personalised, sociable, but always on the individual’s own terms. Micro Communities are founded on personal choice in the home environment. Individually, or in small groups of compatible individuals with learning disabilities and complex special needs, a person can live life on their own terms. HFHC now provides high quality specialist residential care and support for 87 adults. Last year it launched the Social Care Exchange in Lincoln, a resource centre for individuals, charities and companies that are trying to improve the health and social care sector. Today, HFHC employs more than 400 staff. I spoke to Paul de Savary to find out more about the company.
First off I asked him about HFHC’s ability to monitor care in its Micro Communities. “Over eight years, we’ve created an IT platform which delivers real-time data on everything we do. We see in real time what is happening with the individuals we support, the staff supporting them, and so on. This data gets diffused to our management teams, so a number of people will see the same things. So what happens is that the organisation is made aware in a structured way of everything that is happening, as are individual staff members. We put 30,000 forms a week into this transparent system and with each form having some twenty bits of information, you have real time awareness of something happening and a real-time duty to act – and the industry is resistant to that.”
According to de Savary, HFHC is in his words “a completely unique organisation” in this sector. He calls this process “One Team Working”. Unlike other organisations, HFHC has created an in-depth management structure composed of specialist teams who dip in and out of the homes in a highly structured manner, allowing care staff to concentrate on care and not be stuck in an office with only remote knowledge of what’s going on. “Although we’re in the care sector, it’s as much about the staff as the people they care for” says de Savary. “For example, our human resources partners are based in the homes and work alongside managers and not through them – this is really critical. We deal with issues as they arise, not later when they have festered and become a big problem. It’s all about small teams and individual staff working in tandem to deliver complex and individualised care, whilst organisationally staying ahead of the myriad of related issues. One Team working is the antidote to the challenges of real time data and the implicit real time responsibilities,” he adds. Social care is submerged in paperwork where data is recorded but is inaccessible, but not so at HFHC, where it is recorded in real time on a centralised IT platform. This high level of transparency, where problems can’t be hidden away or swept under the carpet, also creates individual accountability. A favourite de Savary quote is ‘you can’t say you didn’t know’.
HFHC runs 11 registered care services and has no problems recruiting, according to de Savary. Its brochure says: “We recruit people with the right attitude and an enthusiasm for making the difference. We invest heavily in comprehensive training and staff development so everyone can achieve their full potential. It also identifies the difference between support and care. Providing care means making a cup of tea for somebody. Supporting means helping them to boil the kettle, or put the tea bag in the cup. It’s amazing how small changes like this can make such a big difference to people’s lives.”
The company’s homes have evolved from single-bedroom, shared-communal facilities – photos available from the brochure – to individual apartments linked to communal space. Personalisation at every level encourages participation in the wider community, but when at home, there is plenty to do. “Whilst gardens provide plenty of space for outdoor activities like trampolining, BBQs or gardening in a safe environment, spacious communal kitchens and open plan living are a hub for socialising and interaction for those that want to. And for those that don’t or can’t, their own personal space allows them to live independent of the others. It really is all about ‘the world on my own terms’”.
Each home has a number of different staff teams depending on its size. The latest home has an impressive five separate staff teams for its eight residents, made possible by HFHC’s unique approach. While separate, the teams’ overall approach is based on collaborative working, making the unforeseen less disruptive.
Says de Savary: “In this sector you are dealing with very real complexities, among staff as much as among the people they care for. The only way you can make this work is through complete transparency, which many find very threatening. We have shown others in this sector our IT platform and several have liked it very much but have subsequently backed away. They simply can’t handle the implications of knowing everything that goes on in their organisations in real time. What you don’t see, you don’t know. And if you don’t know, you can’t be responsible”.
Which indeed is a pity. Because, to adapt one of HFHC’s maxims: “Everyone should have the opportunity to flourish and live a fulfilled life.”
As for the company’s membership of the Social Stock Exchange, de Savary says: “We joined about 18 months ago. We’d been operating rather under the radar, just making the business flourish and becoming sector leaders in many respects. We share the Exchange’s values. I hate the short-termism of this sector – anyone can create profits by cutting costs but it should all be about sustainability and legacy. We suddenly realised that we were creating value and we were defining social impact. And they are nice people, too.”
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